Geographic dislocations

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Georges tore up only the Keys, sparing once again vulnerable Orlando, whose officials had endorsed the Gay Days festival in June, leading Pat Robertson to warn of imminent Lordly wrath, that the city was "right in the way of some serious hurricanes." Georges not only missed the city but fattened Orlando's tax accounts when Gulf-coasters evacuated to Orange County hotels. In all fairness to the Rev, of course, Key West does have beaucoup gays, but, recall that the season's first hurricane, Bonnie, missed the state altogether and instead raked the Atlantic coast from South Carolina to Virginia Beach, which of course is the home of the Christian Broadcasting Network (Pat Robertson, prop.).


Miss America smirkers focused on Miss D.C.'s hiding her stint as a White House intern, surely out of mortification, but what about the winner, Nicole Johnson, who ran as Miss Virginia, thus obviously also embarrassed -- embarrassed that she's a native F Stater, from St. Petersburg? Actually, she may be doubly embarrassed: She once worked for aforementioned Rev. Robertson, and if she were hiding out from hurricanes, she picked the wrong horse.

Coming up short

The Bell Curve was much in the news around Tampa, specifically the Left Tail of the Curve, which is the home of people like Willie Crain Jr., and his brother Linwood, both recent incarcerates. Willie is suspected of killing a 7-year-old girl, but a massive search for evidence has turned up little except traces of blood now being DNA'd. Then, his brother Linwood "Loco" Crain was picked up on bad-check and firearm charges. (Oh, he also killed a woman in 1983 and served 6 years.) Now, if Willie killed the girl, it will be his first known murder. However, he's done time for raping little girls, and two new accusers just came forward, saying they recognized him from incidents 30 years ago, which would be quite a feat, for to describe the face of either Crain as "grizzled" would be gentle. Willie's lawyer understands the Bell Curve very well: "I don't think Willie Crain is smart enough to hide a body where nobody could find it."

Federal deficits

Federal Agents in Trouble: (1) Former FBI organized-crime honcho Jerome Sullivan, who pleaded guilty in Miami in January to stealing $400G from the Bureau to cover gambling losses, has been laying his life bare in court for a couple of weeks, hoping for sympathy in sentencing. And what a life: As a kid, he obsessively vacuumed, mowed the lawn, flicked imaginary dust off his clothes and overstudied every line of dialogue in the "Godfather" movies. As an adult, he drank up to a case of beer a day, from which he liked to unwind by sitting in his car in his garage, playing a tape of President Reagan calling the wife of a fellow agent he knew who had been murdered. He also felt inadequate because he didn't learn Sicilian well enough in language school and feared being exposed. (2) DEA agent Richard Fekete, who is accused of shooting a fellow agent to death in a drunken stupor in Miramar after an Xmas party last year, said it was DEA's fault, and he has a point. A psychiatrist wrote in 1995 that Fekete's "mental health condition" would "pose an undue risk" if he were sent overseas. So, they put him on active duty in the U.S. What? So we could keep Colombians out of harm's way?

Stuff you might have missed ...

• Orange County judge Bob Wattles proposed that students who are "in the system," as criminologists say, but still in school, be barred from extra-curricular activities if they screw up their probation. Several coaches were opposed, including a football guy who asked the judge if he could remove a player's ankle monitor because it was hard for him to practice.

• At last! Someone to take the heat off Tampa's renowned surgeon Rolando "Wrong Foot" Sanchez: a 75-year-old San Diego, Calif., surgeon (whose license was revoked 20 years ago) who amputated a healthy leg of an 80-year-old man, who suffered from "apotemnophilia" (sexual desire to have a limb removed).

• John Pauley, Charlotte, N.C., announced the sale of full-size replicas of the F State's very own Old Sparky electric chair, complete with copper skullcap and vibrating seat. $995. (Actually, it's not quite authentic, for ours as you know occasionally shoots out live-wire sparks.)

• State senate candidate Darryl Reaves, South Dade, made a major campaign announcement in his race with incumbent Daryl Jones : "I was not taken into custody." There was an arrest warrant for supposedly violating his probation on bad-check charges, but Reaves assured that it was all cleared up. (The other Daryl had his own recent problems, being turned down as President Clinton's Secretary of the Air Force due to, uh, questions about his military flying record and an on-base Amway distributorship.)

• Previous death-rower Terry Sims, 56, convicted of killing a sheriff's deputy in Seminole County, is back on. A federal appeals court said it was not bad lawyering that got him where he is, even though the lawyer somehow didn't see a problem when a government witness gave evidence via hypnosis.

• The Brownsville Assembly of God, Pensacola, got in trouble when Doug Fournier, 31, brought the body of his 6-week-old, just-deceased daughter up from Gainesville because he recalled from one of its revivals that they had folks who could raise the dead. The church said it was a figure of speech, even though its youth minister told the Pensacola News Journal that the dead do get raised "in other parts of the world" and "Why is it not happening in the United States?"

• Another youth minister, Melvyn Nurse, was in critical condition in Jacksonville after shooting himself with a defective blank as he acted out Russian roulette to make a point from the pulpit.

• Bureaucrats in Lakeland City Hall had to move their paperwork out, in shopping carts, because too many people were getting sick from mold (in the building, not on them). Headaches, bloody noses, dizziness, and even rashes, going back 18 months.

• And burglars probably looking for drugs broke in and stole several heavy, sealed bags from the animal hospital in Ruskin (Hillsborough County). What they got: used, radioactive kitty litter from cats undergoing thyroid treatments.

Copyright 1998 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved. Chuck Shepherd, who lives in St. Petersburg, also writes the syndicated newspaper column News of the Weird.

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